Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2004

My days off began at noon on August 18th, and in the early morning hours of the 19th I could be seen picking through an arsenal of fishing tackle, picking out several of my old reliable fishing lures. A tandem Mepps black bucktail spinner, a yellow globe surface bait, a black Cisco-kid topper, a green Hog wobblier and a 7 inch perch colored Rapala were among my choices.

This fishing trip would consist of floating several miles of a river in an old aluminum boat and fishing along rocks, and brush piles. Anything that offered fairly deep water (at least 4 feet) and some shade would be a good place to expect some action. My other pole would be tipped with a chartreuse jig, twister tail and night crawler and fished right on the bottom around the brush or any rock structure. There will be many days when you never see another fishermen on this river and combat fishing is unheard of in this part of the country. No whitesocks at all to harass you and a much greater chance of seeing a white-tailed deer then a moose along the river.

You see this fishing trip will not be in Alaska but instead it will be in Augusta Wisconsin on the Eau Claire River. This is where I grew up and yes; Musky fishing is still in my blood. My favorite all time fish to catch. But also in the river are small mouth bass and walleye. Musky fishing is the number one thing I miss about being in Alaska. These huge predator fish have occupied thousands of hours of my time and at one time I could have told you the dept of every hole (within 6 inches) along a ten-mile stretch of the Eau Claire River. I used to wade this river every night after work. All you need is an-old pair of tennis shoes and a pair of shorts, old purse for your tackle and a fish stringer. As I got older and wiser I learned it was easier and less work on your legs to wade down stream instead of upstream. As I get even wiser and yes older too I discovered it was a whole lot easier and you could even take some lunch and something to drink by using a boat!

A nice quiet peaceful time just floating down a river, giving me a chance to escape from the busy hurry up lifestyle in Alaska. I still have a building to move here before winter, potatoes to dig, cabbage to pick, and other garden crops to harvest.

But yet this trip has to be made at this time. My oldest daughter Jessie is going off to college at Baypath College in Longmeadow Mass. I remember just a year ago Jessie and several others were all excitedly planning this road trip to help Jessie get her car there and then all flying back together. I remember how I was thinking at the time how suddenly things change from time to time in our lives and sometimes even the best laid plans don't always work out.

I did not discourage them as they excitedly made these big plans as perhaps my conscience told me not to intervene. Sometimes us parents need to just let our children be children. There are many lessons in life they will have to learn on their own and perhaps the one thing that we must all learn is that things in our life change every day and unfortunately often times before we are prepared for it.

So here it is a year later and Jessie needs someone to help her drive her car to Mass. However the 20th of August is also the start of moose season here in Alaska. The silvers are in just waiting to have the chance to study the inside of my freezer or one of the many people on our food list. So what do you do about this problem? Well you just step forward and be a dad and you take your daughter off to college and try to do some outdoor -activities along the way. Besides hopefully I will beable to hunt the end of moose season once I get back.

This trip will give me an opportunity to put the finishing touches on the job of raising Jessie. This will be Jessie's first major step outside the Perkovich home and our second to leave and venture out into the cold cruel world. I personally ventured out many times before actually being able to permanently get my own address away from the safety and security of my parent's home.

We have had several visitors here this summer and believe me our guests were great and we had another great summer. Things here at the Perkoviches always seem to cruise along here about one hundred miles an hour non-stop.

Each day during the summer seems to blend right into the other and then we hit one of those tragedies and everything seems to come to a screeching halt as we gather ourselves back up again and carefully continue back down life's path once again. The first tragedy we hit was the plane crash that took Chris Coppel and the family from Montana lives. I worked with Chris at the fertilizer plant and also was on the search party that was put together to look for his brother Ben who was killed in a four-wheeler accident here a few years ago. Chris was also a customer of mine at John's Bow Shop. I can tell you that Chris was a gem of a guy and one of those rare enthusiast type guys that you knew from the first time you met that you wanted him on your team. I'm at a loss for words how to express the sorrow I feel for all those involved (especially the Coppel family) in this tragedy.

A few weeks ago we received a phone call from a personal family friend who needed help unloading a load of feed. So my daughter Kim and I drove to up to lend Laura a hand in getting the feed unloaded. I must admit that I thought everything would be fine and this hard working lady would be healed up and good as new in a few days.

I visited with Laura again on the 17th and the prognosis is not very good at this time. Laura was on the couch in her home but despite having to deal with a mountain of health issues and dealing with life on pain medication, she still had a big and cheerful smile as we greeted each other. We discussed the options involving treatment and her plans in general as well as other important things about life in general. I told Laura I feel pretty helpless as a friend in these type situations because I really don't know what to say or do. She assured me she understood the helpless feelings, as she too has had to deal with them. I told her that we loved her and she was in my prayers daily and that if God decides, he can heal with or without medicine. And if it is his choice to take you home then your promised to be in a better place anyway. With a bright-eyed smile Laura looked up at me and said "That's the part I am excited about too!" Laura told me just keep doing what your doing John, keep loving me, keep praying for me and keep coming to see me! With that I gave Laura a big hug, told her good bye and slowly walked out to my vehicle and drove home.......

Yes, at times there are things in life that are way more serious and important then moose hunting. . . .Keep Jessie and I in your thoughts as we drive the highways to Massachusetts and be sure to keep the Coppel family and Laura in your prayers. See you next Week!

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